European rules will remain post Brexit

The Government has said that a UK-wide policy framework for agriculture will be replicated post Brexit until ministers decide whether the current European rules should be retained.

Currently, devolved administrations in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are responsible for implementing the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) but when the UK leaves the European Union, powers exercised by Brussels in relation to the CAP will be returned to Westminster.

According to the Government, replicating the framework provided by the EU rules at a UK level would provide the “greatest level of legal and administrative certainty” once we leave.

The Great Repeal Bill White Paper published at the end of March stated that the Government would begin intensive discussions with the devolved administrations to identify where common frameworks need to be retained in future.

While the UK’s four farming unions agreed that leaving the EU must be seen as an opportunity to ensure continuity and deliver a regulatory framework suited to UK farmers, critics have accused Westminster of trying to grab power from the devolved administrations.

However, UK Brexit secretary David Davis insisted that agriculture needed a UK-wide framework to ensure fairness between all farmers in the UK but promised “serious discussions” with the devolved administrations. He also said he would prefer “more devolution rather than less”.

Despite this, Scotland’s minister for UK negotiations on Scotland’s place in Europe, Michael Russell, said that the Repeal Bill risked undermining the devolution settlement. He added that Brexit must not see any powers removed from the Scottish parliament. Meanwhile, Welsh first minister, Carwyn Jones, called on the Government to provide Welsh businesses with the clarity and certainty they need.